BY LIM SUE GOAN
Translated by SOONG PHUI JEE
Sin Chew Daily
The London Olympics is approaching its end. I hope that it has changed some parents' perception of sports, and they have started to encourage their children to exercise more.
Most Chinese have a wrong notion, thinking that sports are a waste of time. They think that it is sterile to exercise and children should spend more time in studying, so that they can become successful professionals in the future.
Jeremy Lin's parents did not force him to work for a bank and earn huge salaries after he graduated from the Harvard University Department of Economics. If his parents were not open-minded, he would not have a chance to enter the National Basketball Association (NBA) and later swept the world with the "Jeremy Lin craze".
Chinese hurdler Liu Xiang graduated from the Shanghai Sports Technical Institute and the East China Normal University. He earned up to RMB461 million of advertising revenue after winning a gold medal at the 2004 Athens Olympics.
Datuk Lee Chong Wei scored averagely in the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM), but he gained fame and wealth as a professional badminton player.
Of course, not everyone can become a great athlete. Sports, however, enable children to learn something that they cannot learn in classroom, which help them enhance their psychological qualities.
According to Taiwan-based magazine CommonWealth, in addition to fitness, sports are also good for mental health. An increasing number of studies have shown that children who love sports have better memory, as well as abilities to integrate and respond. Teamwork developed through sports, setback tolerance, patience and leadership qualities are indispensable life skills.
Sports bring 10 good values, namely enthusiasm, discipline and concentration, selflessness, respect, diversification in points of looking at things, courage, leadership, responsibility, setback resistance and imagination. In other words, sports can improve a child's Intelligence Quotient (IQ), Emotional Quotient (EQ) and Adversity Quotient (AQ).
Many young people in Malaysia nowadays are mentally vulnerable and the suicide rate has been steadily increasing. Sports can strengthen their willpower and help them to resist setback.
I personally think that sports might be able to relieve young people's impatient and violent emotions. It is because sports teach us how to gain victory, including keeping calm and respecting our opponents. Nowadays, the political arena and the online community are filled with negative emotions like hatred and intolerance. Sports consume energy and thus, might be able to help young people restore their senses.
Many characters cannot be shaped in classroom. For example, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak launched the Genovasi, an initiative to develop 5,000 young people as "innovation ambassadors" in five years. Creativity is inspired by the experience of life, not learned from school. And sports are one of the ways to stimulate creativity.
Therefore, the government should increase physical education classes in schools. In additional to promote child health and solve obesity problems, it can also enhance the people's competitiveness. Currently, primary schools have only an hour of physical education class a week, while secondary schools have 80 minutes, not reaching even a quarter of the total time for physical education class in the US and France.
Instead of feeling happy for the impressive performance of our athletes at the London Olympics, it is better for the Cabinet to carefully plan a way to cultivate sports culture among the people.
From now on, perhaps we should reduce our children's time of surfing the Internet and let them go to the playground and sweat.